Vikings facing up to tough challenge

Tony MarcantonioWith the end of the current season rapidly approaching North Walsham Vikings are still searching for their second win of the year and tomorrow they have potentially one of the hardest games imaginable.Tony Marcantonio

With the end of the current season rapidly approaching North Walsham Vikings are still searching for their second win of the year and tomorrow they have potentially one of the hardest games imaginable.

Visitors Bracknell must have had high hopes of at least a top-two finish when they beat champions-elect Jersey on the opening weekend.

They are fourth in the table, two points behind Hertford but with two games in hand, and should be looking at third place.

In the away fixture Walsham put up one of their best performances of the season, a last-minute penalty from Justin Loveridge sealing a well-deserved draw.

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In last week's series of games Bracknell steamrollered relegation candidates Sutton & Epsom 67-0, running in 12 tries, with nine players making touchdowns and centre Ben Nowak converting eight.

However, bearing in mind the way the Walsham defence has been playing - few clubs have claimed a four-try bonus point - the result of this one should be somewhat closer and on the basis of the way they played the second half last week they must go into this game in confident mood.

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The Vikings have a pretty good 'points against' stat and it has been their indiscipline that has been their downfall on too many occasions with penalties rather than tries their undoing.

With both Loveridge and Lee Sandberg unavailable there will most likely be a new half-back pairing.

Alex Graf-Grote is a natural choice to replace Sandberg, but the coaches have yet to decide on his half-back partner. The revamped back-line in the second half last week looked well balanced and it would be good to see it retained.

If that is the decision then it could be Tom Holt who gets handed the No 10 shirt. He has had a couple of weeks off, but has been training hard and is the sort of player who can make the breaks and retain possession.

The forwards were well on top last week and are likely to be unchanged so the choice of replacements will be the most difficult to make.

Young Ben Campbell made the trip last week and looked assured when he came on to prop for a couple of spells but his chance for further first team action may have to be put on hold if Shaun Woodhouse is fit, but he is definitely one for the future.

t Diss welcome Hertford to Mackenders in what is sure to be a tough match for the home side. Diss won a hard fought game down at Hoe Lane 20-17, thanks to a last ditch penalty kick from Chris Beaird.

Reports coming from the Hertford camp, including sending a scout up to the Dorking match, prove that they are out for revenge.

They have lost only once since Christmas and have been on a strict training regime.

Diss welcome back Tim Groom and Warren Wilby, who were unavailable last week, Rhuan Jones after injury and Matt Gardner from university. Paul Cayley also comes back into the squad.

The Saracens are also playing Hertford at Mackenders. The visitors are second in the league and convincingly beat Diss 48-0 earlier in the season.

The 3rds are also at home against Crusaders k.o 3.00pm. Diss are riding high at the top of the league, while the visitors are propping up the table.

The 4ths are playing away at Lowestoft and Yarmouth k.o.3.00pm. Like the 3rds, Diss are leading the league while their opponents are 4 places below them.

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